The Sky of Johannesburg lit by MGG

As the sun set over Johannesburg, South Africa on the 19th of May in the evening, Mark Gaylard of technical production company MGG had a lump in his throat.
He and his crew of twenty just created a replica of the South African flag with 214 lighting fixtures, predominantly Robe, at the company’s premises.

Photo: Duncan Riley

As he watch the horizon, Mark wished that life would soon let him do again the things he enjoy the most wich is running a busy and proactive lighting and visual rental and production company for shows and events.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, MGG has manage to be in line with the new environment, becoming an ‘essential service’ provider by offering a virtual studio for broadcasting and streaming. Other activities includes assembling information noticeboards, developing a clever hands-free door opener, and producing essential PPE kit like masks.

Photo: Duncan Riley

“I wanted to shine our lights in solidarity for South Africa, and I wanted to reach out to Robe and the other various #TogetherWeAreStronger and #LightTheSky projects,” Mark explained. “Also, I wanted to highlight the plight of the thousands of freelancers in our industry, many of whom are reliant on food vouchers provided by the #FeedOurCrew initiative.” (see separate Robe News story)

Kevin Rieck, head of drafting at MGG received a request to draw the South African flag which would be outlined in the extensive car park area. “We had previously split our staff into teams to minimize risk and properly social distance, and so had to rely on all departments this time to do the setup.”

Photo: Duncan Riley

Everyone was happy to be together again whilst watching out the safety regulations like social distancing, temperature checks and mask-wearing.
General manager Denzil Smith and operations manager Rianda Van Burick measured out the flag shape with some tape, and the lighting fixtures were then set within the design.

The Robe elements listed 24 x LEDWash 1200s, 32 x LEDWash 600s, 16 x Spiiders, 22 x Tetra2s, 14 x BMFL Blades, 10 x Pointes, 25 x LEDBeam 100s and 24 x MegaPointes.

“With so many lights, we didn’t have enough power in the building and had to use two generators,” said Mark, added to which the area suffered a power outage, so they ended up using three gennies … “and no we didn’t cause it!” says Mark. “Everyone had butterflies – there was great excitement, and it was wonderful to get together to do what we do best and miss so much.”
A pitch-black sky furnished the perfect canvas to replicate the flag which includes a funky mix of black, gold, green, white, chilli red and blue. It was designed in March 1994 and adopted on 27 April 1994, at the beginning of South Africa’s 1994 first free general election, to replace the flag used since 1928 and represent the country’s new democracy after the end of apartheid. Three of the flag’s colours were taken from the flags of the Boer Republics and the Union Jack, with the other three from the flag of the African National Congress.

Photo: Duncan Riley

Mark and the team were astonished when some random strangers arrived at their premises in order to look closer, having seen the lighting from a nearby bridge on the highway. A strict curfew meant there was little time to get everything set up and put back in boxes within 12 hours. The next morning, there were rumours of a few stiff muscles! Having been at home for weeks on end, the crew were not used to the physical work.

“South Africa has the coolest flag in the world, and as a country we really are all in this together,” ended Mark. “I’m hoping that we will inspire corporate organizations to come up with projects and ideas during this time, and that they’ll turn to our industry to help them create and share a message of hope.”

For more information check the Robe website

Crédits - Text by Robe Lighting

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